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Although my account is fairly new on SO, I've been using the site since I started programming about a year ago and as I've gotten increasingly active, I would love to get more involved with the site. My end game is to end up becoming a diamond moderator on SO. Now, I know this kind of thing doesn't happen overnight, or even in the span of a year or two, but I am very eager to work towards this.

My question is: What are some of the best things that can be done to work towards this goal? Obviously, asking good questions and giving good answers is one of the most important things. What I want to know is if there are things that would stand out more than others (badges that mean more than others, rep gain per day, etc). Or even things that aren't related to SO directly. I just would like to know how I could get more involved in maintaining/moderating the site currently and what I could do that would make me stand out and help me achieve my goal. Thanks in advance for any tips!

EDIT: Thank you all for your responses! I definitely have a better feel for what I would need to do in order to reach my goal. I also want to clarify something. The reason that I want to be a moderator is because I want to be able to give back to the site. Stack Overflow has quite literally saved my ass over 100 times in the past year alone and I want to help maintain the site so that everyone else can get just as much out of it as I can. What I didn't realize is that it is already very easy to do so and I will definitely begin to help out more by flagging posts and becoming more involved in meta.

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If you want the job, you shouldn't be allowed to have it. –  Anthony Pegram Jul 10 '13 at 20:02
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#1 criteria: you edit posts to remove "thanks" etc. –  user7116 Jul 10 '13 at 20:06
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You can get a good idea of the necessary qualities a potential moderator must possess here: chat.meta.stackoverflow.com/rooms/551/in-praise-of-moderators. –  Asad Jul 10 '13 at 20:06
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@user4 I'd rather have a user that wants the job as a mod than movement who doesn't want it... –  Undo Jul 10 '13 at 20:08
    
See also: A Theory of Moderation and How can I become a better Stack Overflow moderator? (Note that the latter is over three years old, so may not be as applicable as it once was.) –  Al E. Jul 10 '13 at 20:27
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Memes. Post lots of memes. Cats help, too. –  Won't Jul 10 '13 at 20:28
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Don't forget: What is community moderation, and what can I do to help? –  Al E. Jul 10 '13 at 20:29
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Have a thick skin. Scales are a plus. –  Bill the Lizard Jul 10 '13 at 20:31
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You have to hate fun. –  Esoteric Screen Name Jul 10 '13 at 21:05
    
You have to be a habitual waffle eater and lover of unicorns. –  Undo Jul 10 '13 at 21:50
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@Undo, re "lover of unicorns" -- roasted or pan-fried? –  Monica Cellio Jul 10 '13 at 21:59
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@MonicaCellio Boiled, served with waffles. Don't tell BoltClock, though... –  Undo Jul 10 '13 at 22:00
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"It is a well-known fact that those people who must want to rule people are, ipso facto, those least suited to do it... anyone who is capable of getting themselves made President should on no account be allowed to do the job." – Zaphod Beeblebrox –  Emrakul Jul 11 '13 at 2:17
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Do you like cleaning up after the party? Sweeping the dojo? Doing the Thanksgiving dishes? How do you feel about putting perfumed absorbent-powder on puddles of vomit? If your fondest wish is to get a better power washer for doing the driveway you might---just might---be moderator material. –  dmckee Jul 11 '13 at 2:37
    
@dmckee that should become a sticky post somewhere on the nominations page –  Pëkka Jul 11 '13 at 13:51
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4 Answers 4

up vote 32 down vote accepted

Obviously, asking good questions and giving good answers is one of the most important things.

Actually, no. High rep is not an indicator of someone being a good moderator.

What is?

  • Meta participation, in particular on items to do with building up the community and how the network works
  • Good communication with others - commenting constructively, for instance
  • Correct and prolific flagging and reviewing

In short - you need to show to the community that you are already an active moderator and that you will be a good one.

Once a moderator election comes, you can submit yourself for it. There are several stages to a moderator election, so you need support from the community (hence, lots of participation and constructive participation is paramount).


See There's an election going on. What's happening and how does it work? for details of how an election works.

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+1, and a really good grasp on Quality Edits (as opposed to "I got all of the badges!!!" edits) –  user7116 Jul 10 '13 at 20:06
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And now the masses go: "There may be hope for me yet!" –  Emrakul Jul 10 '13 at 20:18
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Of course, being me, and nobody else. –  Emrakul Jul 10 '13 at 20:18
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High rep isn't generally required, but doesn't SO set a higher rep threshold than other sites for candidates? For most sites you only need 300 to run, but I thought it was a lot higher on SO. –  Monica Cellio Jul 10 '13 at 20:20
    
@MonicaCellio: It's 3,000 on Stack Overflow. Interestingly, though, if you go to the link for the first election it states: "In the nomination phase, any community member in good standing with more than 30,732 reputation may nominate themselves to be a community moderator." - Don't know where that number came from. –  animuson Jul 10 '13 at 20:23
    
@animuson - Probably taken from a % of users (ie. top 1%), though I have nothing to back that up with. –  Oded Jul 10 '13 at 20:26
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@animuson Only 30 candidates are possible, if any more nominate the candidates with the lowest reputation are kicked out, and that increases the minimum reputation threshold –  Mad Scientist Jul 10 '13 at 20:33
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...or, you can get hired and get one of those bonus-mod-diamonds. ;) –  Bart Jul 10 '13 at 21:30
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High rep is not an indicator of someone being a good mod, but it is a sure-fire way to make you one nevertheless. Voters love repz –  Pëkka Jul 10 '13 at 22:39
    
... to make you a mod, I mean. Not necessarily a good mod :) –  Pëkka Jul 11 '13 at 8:27
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My end game is to end up becoming a diamond moderator on SO.

I'd argue that this is not the right attitude to have. Too many people look at being a moderator on one of the Stack Exchange sites as a trophy to be won, or some kind of badge of success. This has caused problems during previous elections on Stack Overflow, as high-rep users nominated themselves to be moderator simply because that was the only award they hadn't won on the site.

Moderators, particularly on Stack Overflow, are glorified janitors (with a little policeman thrown in). We are volunteers who deal with the worst content the site offers, and have to manage cheaters, spammers, trolls, and other bad actors every day. The community handles almost all of the actual moderation duties on the site, with us being called in when they aren't able to deal with something.

Focus on being a positive contributor first. Almost all of the best people on the site aren't moderators. They're the ones who go out of their way to help others, or take on the thankless tasks of voting to close terrible questions or flagging inappropriate content. They come on Meta and are polite and helpful to new users who don't understand the site. We need more people like this.

Build reputation through asking and answering questions, and you'll soon have access to powerful tools for moderating content yourself. Only when you start spending much of your time cleaning up the site and feel that you could do much more than these tools allow should you seriously contemplate being a moderator. For example, if you find yourself flagging lots of things that you can't deal with on your own, that could be a good sign that you're right for the position.

Reputation isn't everything, though, as both Tim Post and Anna Lear got many more votes when they were elected on SO than people with a lot more reputation on the site. They had demonstrated to the community that they could moderate well, despite not being the most prolific answerers. It's not a coincidence that they're both employed by SE now.

The moderator candidates that I vote for each election are the ones who can give the best response to the question "Why do you want to be a moderator?" That reason needs to be something more than because you think it would be an honor.

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The only thing you actually have to do is to convince enough users to vote for you. There are many ways to do that, I'll just list some aspects that I think are important.

  • You need to convince us that you actually care about the site, that you aren't in it for the badges and the (non-existent) glory. The primary motivation to become a moderator should be to improve the site and help the community to develop.

  • You should display good judgement, a moderator shouldn't cause more trouble than the users he is suspending. A moderator should deescalate a situation, and not pour more oil into the fire. As a moderator you have some rather powerful tools at your disposal. We, the community, should have the impression that we can trust you to use them wisely.

  • The primary duty of a moderator is pretty much that of a janitor. You should have a good record of editing, closing and flagging posts. Even without the diamond you can perform a large number of moderation duties, we'd like to see that you already use the tools at your disposal before you are elected.

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You can get some insight into what is important by looking at the pages for past elections. For example, the most recent SO election indicates that, specifically on that site, you must have four particular badges. On all sites' election pages, the "at a glance" stats shown for each candidate include meta participation (number of questions and anaswers and total votes for each) and the number of helpful flags, and if you drill into candidate details you'll see several badges that are listed. Except on SO none of that is required, but it's a good indicator of what's important to voters.

Reputation probably does matter some (beyond the small threshold required to run at all), but it's not the biggest factor. Participation matters -- how regularly, how long, how controversially, how politely, and so on. And, as noted here and by Oded, meta participation and flagging are important ways to show that you are involved with the site itself and not just certain questions or tags.

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